Georgia’s Zurab Pololikashvili appointed UNWTO Secretary General
Georgia’s Zurab Pololikashvili has been appointed Secretary General of the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).
Pololikashvili was elected as the new head of the international tourism body by consensus at the 22nd UNWTO General Assembly being held in Chengdu, China, following the recommendation of the 105th UNWTO Executive Council.
His term will run from 2018 to 2021.
Pololikashvili currently serves as Georgia’s ambassador to Spain, Morocco, Algeria and Andorra. He was Minister of Economic Development of Georgia from 2009 to 2010, and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Georgia from 2005 to 2006.
After his appointment, Pololikashvili outlined his vision for UNWTO, saying that it would be fully based on the needs of the member states, considering current political and economic uncertainties across the globe.
Some key areas he outlined include:
- Expanding the UNWTO membership and attracting new countries to join the organisation
- Cooperating with new members on tourism’s contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
- Encourage leading donor agencies to be involved in the implementation of a wide range of projects and capacity building programmes on national and sub-regional levels
He proposed to initiate these thematic platforms to expand UNWTO’s advocacy work and awareness-raising:
- A global leaders’ summit on travel and tourism for heads of state, in parallel with the UNWTO General Assembly
- An annual ministerial meeting on safety, security and travel facilitation to enhance effective inter-sectorial coordination
- An annual global ‘invest in tourism’ forum to promote investment opportunities and share best international practices on investment and incentive policies
- An annual ministerial-level forum on climate change and tourism to offer specific recommendations on implementing long-term sustainable development policies
According to Pololikashvili, UNWTO should be focusing on long-term challenges such as safety and security, climate change, and external factors affecting global travel and tourism. UNWTO should undertake serious steps to manage thematic platforms so that dialogue among decision-makers results in effective inter-sectorial coordination, he said.
“As of opportunities, from my point of view, UNWTO should strengthen its expertise and prepare guidelines on management and marketing for various types of tourism destinations considering current technological advances, new business models and the rise of digital tourism,” Pololikashvili was quoted as saying, in an interview published by UNWTO.
UNWTO is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. The organisation’s membership includes 156 countries, six associate members and over 500 affiliate members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations and local tourism authorities.